Big Snow Mountain is located in the beautiful Alpine Lakes wilderness. It is a big mountain with notable height, surrounded by beautiful lakes and tarns. Summit views of surrounding peaks like Summit Chief, Lemah, Daniel, Overcoat and more are spectacular! The north slope is made up of beautiful glacial scoured granite slab and rock. The slab holds pockets of snow late into the season. Large and small tarns alike sprinkle the whole north slope. The east face is steep walls that drop down into lower Hardscrabble Lake. It cannot be seen from any road in the area. It is quite remote and sits alone. It is a fairly popular scramble (for those who know the area and peak baggers) but not as popular as the nearby I-90 peaks.
Possible first ascent by a group of Mountaineers July 20, 1917 *
Overview of RoutesThere are several approaches and routes up this peak. We climbed the east ridge route.
East ridge: 8 miles rt, 4000+' gain, class 2 scramble with some route finding. Approach starts .5 miles short of the end of Middle fork road (bring a bike for the ride back down!) and ascends to Hardscrabble Lake. From there head east and ascend a climbers path to upper Hardscrabble Lake. Stay on the path, ascending through forest and keeping near the inlet to the lake. If one goes too far to the left you will run into cliff bands. From there, the climb begins up a gully to a col. From the col, drop down onto the open granite slab of the north slope. Follow the east ridge to the summit. **This is the preferred route to the summit, and will require an overnight for all except the hardiest of souls.
North slope or Myrtle Lake route: 12-13 miles rt elev, 5280' gain, class 2-3 with route finding. Approach from Dingford creek trail to Myrtle Lake. Ascend to Big Snow Lake. Traverse right around Snowflake Lake, then ascend to the summit. This route is the most shortest, but not easiest route.
*East buttress: Grade III class 5.7 first ascent by Don Williamson and Jeff Dial May 11, 1971
*South ridge: ascend from Middle Fork Snoqualmie River road; route finding and bushwhack.
*Southwest ridge: ascend from Hester Lake trail; route finding and bushwhack.
Getting ThereFrom Seattle, take I-90 to exit 34 in North bend. Take 468th Ave for about .6 mile. Turn right on Middle Fork road. At about 1 mile stay to the left at a now closed fork in the road. Continue for another 1.5 or so until the road turns to dirt. This is FS RD 56- drive about 10 miles, cross a bridge, and take a right. You will go about 6.5 miles until you come to another gate. This is the Dingford TH and gate- the jumping off point for the Myrtle Lake route, and also now the end of the road. For the east ridge route, hike 7 miles further to the old parking area, eventually found on the right side of the road just .5 mile from the road's end at Dutch Miller TH.
CampingCamping is great at any of the lakes, just keep in mind the impact you are making while camping. A campground is located at the beginning of Middle Fork River road.
Red tapeThere is no NW forest pass required at this TH.
When to climbNormally climbed late spring to fall. Winter ascents are possible with access being ok for winter. North slope route would make for a good ski run. One must be mindful of avalanche conditions and hazards if climbing during winter.
Maps, links & weatherUSGS Big Snow Mountain & Green Trails #175 Skykomish Wa
The most recent trip report, submitted by and at the request of Force9. Many thanks for the TR, as this mountain is seldom summitted.
*resources and special noteCascade Alpine Guide 1. Columbia River to Stevens Pass. Fred Beckey
Climbing Washington's Mountains Jeff Smoot